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Op-ed? piece on abusive parents when they get old

 
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    Posted: Jan 20 2014 at 8:24pm
This might be a repost but I couldn't find it on BHM.  But I thought it was an interesting article, especially when I have a father who is getting up there, hell he is up there but thankfully he is doing very well.  But based on my relationship with my parents, I will help around to make sure that they are doing well, helping with errands, etc.  But if they were abusive, I will not lie, I will cut them off like a tumor.  Any thoughts, opinions, comments?


The Undeserving Parent

By PAULA SPAN
Doug Plummer/Getty Images

Maybe this incident tells you all you need to know. Wendy was 9 or 10, sitting in a Massachusetts restaurant with her mother and grandmother, and yawning.

“Are you bored?” her mother asked.

“Yes,” Wendy said.

Her mother’s response: a slap across the face, not for the first time nor for the last. She hit Wendy when she was a teenager who stumbled at night and awakened her. She hit Wendy when she was a bride-to-be trying on wedding gowns.

“To this day, when she hears something she doesn’t like, she still says, ‘I’ll smack you,’” Wendy told me in an interview. (Her last name has been withheld to protect her family’s privacy.)

For years, Wendy lived with her grandparents, who provided a welcome haven while her mother divorced and remarried four times, moved cross-country and then returned. “I never felt that I mattered to her,” Wendy said. “I was more like an accessory.”

Now her mother, who lives near her in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is 81 and no longer actually smacks anyone, though a penchant for sarcasm and nastiness endures. Wendy has managed to put together a good life at 57: She cherishes her long marriage, has raised three children she adores, makes art and cooks and volunteers with animal rescue groups. She doubts she will ever be close to her mother (and barely remembers her father — her parents divorced when she was 4). But “we have détente,” she said.

So what, if anything, does Wendy owe her now? She knows her mother, though still healthy, will probably become more dependent. In fact, she already calls to demand that Wendy and her husband help with everything from feuds with neighbors to cable television problems.

We’ve previously talked here about strained parent-child relationships in the context of tensions between siblings, the ones who step up to care for parents and resent those who feel they can’t. But Wendy is an only child; there’s no one on whom to offload her mother’s care. Can she really turn her back on an elderly, ailing parent?

That would violate a deep-seated social and cultural understanding (even, in many states, a legal obligation). Your parents did the best they could for you; when they’re old and need help, you do the best you can for them. But physically or emotionally abusive parents have already violated that convention. Is there still an ethical duty to assist them? Even “filial responsibility” laws requiring adult children to care for parents make an exception for those whose parents abandoned them or otherwise did them some injury.

(Some New Old Age readers have referred, in comments, to their own struggles with caring for once-abusive parents as they grow dependent. If that describes your situation, I’d like to hear how you handle the dilemma.)

Wendy hasn’t quite turned her back on her mother. They speak two or three times a week. Wendy invites her for holiday meals and drives her to visit her youngest son at college a few hours away. But she has started to think about what’s ahead.

She has considered the damage her unstable childhood has wrought, including years spent coping with depression and eating disorders. She’s concerned about her husband’s health. She knows something about what caregiving involves, having helped her beloved grandmother die at home, as she wished.

She remembers, too, what she learned from her psychologist during two years of therapy: “She taught me how to be strong and not react to my mother, which was all you could do with someone like that.”

And she has decided that when her mother becomes disabled, as about two-thirds of older Americans do, “she’s going to have to find a facility that will take care of her,” Wendy said. “I will drive her around” to visit and choose a new home, “but I’m not going to contribute to it.” Her mother is financially secure and can afford assisted living on her own.

“I’m not a cold person. I’m not aloof or distant,” Wendy added. “But in this case, I have to be. I don’t ever remember a time when there wasn’t something said that was hurtful and mean-spirited. I think you get what you give.”

Caring for her grandmother at home, playing her favorite operas as she neared death, was a duty Wendy was glad to take on, an act of love. With her mother, “there’s just not a lot of feeling there.”

So far, she is at ease with this decision, though she knows others will question or criticize. “I don’t care,” she said. “Let them live my life. A nurse’s aide is going to think I’m a horrible daughter? Whatever.”

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Senior Detective View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote Senior Detective Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 20 2014 at 8:39pm
I have no problem cutting off toxic ppl at any age
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote AmiliaCabral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 20 2014 at 9:03pm
I'm not gonna lie...my dad asks me to do shyt for him and I'm letting him know I'll smother him with a pillow if he act up. Don't ask me for a cotdamn thing nicca

Good article
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (5) Thanks(5)   Quote carolina cutie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 20 2014 at 9:12pm
I don't have an issue with folk cutting off parents who abused them. Why take care of someone who didn't care for you? I know I wouldn't feel a darn bit of guilt.



OT: I learned in class that yt culture were more likely to had less of an issue throwing their aging parents in homes than other cultures.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote nekamarie83 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 20 2014 at 9:14pm
the mature and maybe better thing to do would be to take care of the parent. but who are you to stand in the way of them reaping the karma they've taken so long to sow? 

frankly, you've already paid your dues. eff them.

and if my father doesn't know by now that calling me isn't the thing to do, he clearly hasn't been paying attention.

Edited by nekamarie83 - Jan 20 2014 at 9:14pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote NARSAddict Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 20 2014 at 9:47pm
Originally posted by carolina cutie carolina cutie wrote:

I don't have an issue with folk cutting off parents who abused them. Why take care of someone who didn't care for you? I know I wouldn't feel a darn bit of guilt.



OT: I learned in class that yt culture were more likely to had less of an issue throwing their aging parents in homes than other cultures.


I am incline to believe you because based on my limited experience with white folks in Indiana, they are more apt to put their elderly parents in a home or some kind of facility.  In contrast, in this one forum, many of the posters would rather keep their parents at home and their reasoning made sense to me at that time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote FarraFace Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 20 2014 at 10:03pm
I'm mad at Wendy for letting that crone live to see 81. But now that she is 81 and financially secure, well, they ain't really doing a whole lot of autopsies on 81 year olds who appear to have died in their sleep. IJS
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote sexyandfamous Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 20 2014 at 10:19pm
I guess the child should support the parent financially, if they may need it, but there is no emotional connection between an adult who were abused by their parent as a child and the parent, so no one can blame those people for not wanting to be around..... but if you are truly a good and forgiving person, you will move on from that and be near them no matter what.

The children who were sexually abused probably see that completely different though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (6) Thanks(6)   Quote zolloh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 20 2014 at 10:36pm
i stopped where it said her mother slapped her when she was trying on wedding gowns Stern Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote newdiva1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 20 2014 at 10:39pm
Originally posted by Senior Detective Senior Detective wrote:

I have no problem cutting off toxic ppl at any age




word.  if this is what it was I woulda cut everybody off a long time ago.  Nobody would no where to call me to ask me for sh*t.
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